Scientist Steven Eaton jailed for falsifying drug test results
- 17 April 2013
- From the section Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland
A scientist who faked research data for experimental anti-cancer drugs has been jailed for three months for falsifying test results.
Steven Eaton, from Cambridgeshire, has become the first person in the UK to be jailed under scientific safety laws.
Eaton, 47, was working at the Edinburgh branch of US pharmaceutical firm Aptuit in 2009 when he came up with the scam.
If it had been successful, cancer patients who took the drug could have been harmed, the court was told.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Eaton had manipulated the results of an experiment so it was deemed successful when it had actually failed.
When bosses at his firm scrutinised his work, they noticed that it was fraudulent.
They stopped work on the project that Eaton was involved in, and reported him to watchdogs at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Investigators there discovered that Eaton had been selectively reporting research data since 2003.
Defence solicitor advocate Jim Stephenson said his client had given up working as a scientist.
He said: "He is unlikely to ever undertake this type of work ever again."
The story emerged after Eaton was convicted last month under legislation called the 1999 Good Laboratory Practice Regulations.
Sentence had been deferred so that the court could obtain reports about Eaton's character.
Sheriff Michael O'Grady said: "I feel that my sentencing powers in this are wholly inadequate. You failed to test the drugs properly - you could have caused cancer patients unquestionable harm.
"Why someone who is as highly educated and as experienced as you would embark on such a course of conduct is inexplicable."
Speaking after the case, Gerald Heddell, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency's director of inspection, enforcement and standards, said he welcomed the conviction.
He added: "This conviction sends a message that we will not hesitate to prosecute those whose actions have the potential to harm public health."